Sanitha, S.K. and Madeswaran, P., 2020. Taxonomy matters in monitoring and EIA studies: An urgent need to revive systematic and taxonomy research in India. In: Sheela Nair, L.; Prakash, T.N.; Padmalal, D., and Kumar Seelam, J. (eds.), Oceanic and Coastal Processes of the Indian Seas. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 89, pp. 71-76. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Human-induced loss of biodiversity is affecting the functions and services of the earth's ecosystems. Large regions of the biosphere are expected to be affected by the projected climate change, further aggravating the health of the ecosystems. It has been widely recognized that the successful management of any ecosystem cannot occur without an effective assessment of its regional biodiversity. However, monitoring or ecology studies exploring the relationship between biota and the environment have often overlooked the role of biodiversity. Since biodiversity is increasingly becoming an important component of ecosystem management, taxonomic accuracy is fundamental to prevent erroneous assessments and decisions in management and conservation policy. This paper therefore discusses how lack of taxonomy research is hindering marine monitoring and EIA studies in India. Here, we use the macrofaunal data from the Seawater Quality Monitoring (SWQM) program, the coastal monitoring program of India. We observed that the uncertainty in the biological data hampered a sound interpretation of the observed pattern, and is a major challenge to monitoring and EIA studies. Therefore, taxonomic uncertainty may lead to wrong conclusions and ultimately to inappropriate management plans.
Four major difficulties in effective biodiversity studies in India were identified. These are (1) lack of experts; (2) lack of appropriate support and funding for biodiversity studies; (3) the need to update regional literature for identification of most marine invertebrates and (4) lack of interaction among Indian researchers. Given the slow progress in taxonomy research, particularly marine invertebrates, there is an urgent need for networking among the Indian and international scientists, effective training, and an integrated approach. Reliable taxonomy offers an opportunity to provide relevant information to policy makers and environmental managers for skillfully manage the marine systems.